The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have arrived! At this very moment, educators in 48 states plus the District of Columbia are adjusting their activities to the new standards. But how do those new standards prepare students to cope with or to generate the innovations of the 21st century?
The CCSS attention to English Language Arts and Mathematics suggests that, to be career and college ready, today’s students must demonstrate a strong grasp of those subjects. The CCSS will be periodically reviewed and updated to fit future needs, and so it is important that we keep track of developments. Furthermore, alongside whatever CCSS iteration, we need to prepare students to be creative, flexible, and adaptable to the unforeseen contexts of a fast moving 21st Century.
Recently, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) published the P21 Common Core Toolkit in an effort to align the CCSS to the increasing necessity for helping our students develop complex thinking skills. P21 calls on educators to incorporate skills such as creativity, flexibility, adaptability, global, and cultural awareness in curricula and assessments. Since the CCSS do not prescribe ways to teach, the toolkit also proposes that educators engage students in inquiry and exploration of real world problems and interdisciplinary performance tasks.
Arts integration is a teaching approach that addresses the concerns raised in the P21 Common Core Toolkit. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Changing Education through the Arts (CETA) Program define arts integration as “…an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process that connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both.”
In the arts integrated classroom, students make use of background knowledge, investigation, and experimentation to perform tasks that involve both standards in the arts form and in another core subject. Creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, flexibility and adaptability, some of the skills described as central to success in the 21st century, are integral to the arts initegration pedagogy. Read the rest of this entry »